By Vincent Whittaker.
When we see a stellar cast with the likes of Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck and Forest Whitaker we expect great things, but not even the great cast can raise this movie above the realms of the mediocre.
The movie focuses on Russell Baze(Bale), a man trapped in a dead-end job working for the local steel mill and struggling to look after his brother Rodney(Affleck), who’s a three tour vet haunted by his experiences. He also has to look after his terminally ill father and fiancée. When his efforts to bail out his brother’s gambling debt go awry and he goes to prison for drink driving everything falls apart. His father dies and his brother falls into the dangerous world of underground boxing. Upon release Russell tries to get things back on track, he confronts his brother and tries to get back with his fiancée who has moved on. Despite his best efforts though, Rodney makes the mistake of taking a fight with some ruthless drug dealers in a small town, to the Northeast, a fight that costs him his life. Russell, feeling let down by the lack of response from law enforcement, takes matters into his own hands.
This is not a new story; we’ve heard it a dozen times before. Two brothers, one who tries all he can to be good but never really manages to get anywhere and a younger brother who acts out against a world that’s failed him. Younger brother falls in with bad crowd thus forcing the older brother to come in and bail him out. This is standard popcorn munching fare. The cast tries their best with the script they’re given and even though the dialogue is heavily expositional it still feels natural and unforced due to the strong characters displayed. The main issue with this film is that we know exactly what’s going to happen before any of the characters do. It’s all to procedural, we’re guided too heavily and spoon fed the scenes we need in order to feel the emotional impact at the end. The only impact we feel is down to the strength of the performances; Harrelson is terrifying in his role and his outbursts of rage are what keeps us on the edge of our seats, we know he’ll snap we’re just waiting for it to happen. Due to Harrelson being the monster he is, Bale’s unlucky hero is that much more needed and we’re rooting for him to take revenge and vanquish the redneck monster.
‘Out of the Furnace’ is all very well polished, great performances, well shot and a soundtrack that’s moody in all the right places but a lack of originality in the subject matter lets it down. It’s like an old joke we’ve been told many times before; we know the set up, we’re mouthing the words and when the punch line hits we laugh, but it’s more out of habit than anything else. I’d give it a 6/10. The film hits theatres on the 29th of this month and if you’re a fan of the cast, go see them turn in some excellent work, just don’t expect to be wowed by the story.
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